Texas Senate deliberates on Paxton’s impeachment for second day

The fate of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is in the hands of the state Senate, which began deliberations on Friday after hearing closing arguments from both sides in his impeachment trial. Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment that accuse him of abusing his office and betraying voters by helping his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer who was under federal investigation.

Prosecutors say Paxton abused his office and betrayed voters

The House impeachment managers, led by Republican state Rep. Andrew Murr, said Paxton had violated his oath of office and the public trust by using his power and influence to benefit Paul, who allegedly provided him with favors such as home renovations and a job for a woman with whom Paxton was having an affair. They also said Paxton had lied to the public and the court about the whistleblower lawsuit filed by his former top aides, who reported his alleged misconduct to the FBI.

Texas Senate deliberates on Paxton’s impeachment for second day
Texas Senate deliberates on Paxton’s impeachment for second day

“He may claim to be one of us. But unlike the public servants here today, he has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity,” Murr said in his closing statement. He urged the senators to convict Paxton and remove him from office permanently.

Defense says impeachment is a political witch hunt

Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, dismissed the House’s case as “a joke” and a political witch hunt motivated by fractures within the Republican Party. He said the only evidence against Paxton was that some people did not like him or his policies. He also questioned the credibility and motives of the whistleblowers, who he said were disgruntled former employees who had personal vendettas against Paxton.

“The only evidence we have in this case is they don’t like Ken Paxton,” Buzbee said. He asked the senators to acquit Paxton and restore him to office.

Senate deliberations could take hours or days

The Senate jury, composed of 30 senators, 19 of whom are Republicans, began deliberations around noon on Friday. They need at least 21 votes to convict Paxton on any of the articles of impeachment. Paxton’s wife, Angela, who is also a state senator, is barred from voting or participating in the deliberations.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the trial, said he had no idea how long the deliberations would take. He instructed the senators to avoid discussing the trial outside their deliberations or considering any information other than what was presented during the trial. He also warned them not to look at television or their phones.

“I have no idea how long the jury is going to deliberate. It could be hours; it could be days,” Patrick said.

He said he would give reporters and members of the public at least 30 minutes’ notice before announcing the verdicts. If Paxton is convicted, the Senate would also hold a separate vote on whether to bar him from seeking office again.

Paxton, who has denied all wrongdoing, appeared on the Senate floor for the first time since entering his not guilty pleas on the first day of the trial. He did not testify during the trial.

Paxton is only the third statewide official in Texas history to face impeachment, and the first since 1917. He is also facing criminal charges in a separate case related to securities fraud allegations.

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